Continuation from part A
Zita´s face was drained of the tiniest drop of blood – her features blurred on the white mask around her eyes. The perspective of the lunch inevitably agitated me, but this was supposed to be the climax of my engagement.
I took Michael´s hand about a turn from the lounge. He regarded me as if I were the last straggler to arrive at the prom night.
“Have you thought about my proposal?”
I was glad he asked me so quickly. “Do you think you can use every bit of your connections and generous pay for this Singerton, that it is possible they could get away without punishment?”Michael sniffed. “They could get away with community service, but that would be a stretch.”
“That´s my price.”
Dad and Domingo rose ceremoniously from their seats, and once we were all seated, the cooks served the Camembert with vegetables.
“You used to be done with your meal in three minutes, Barbara,” my Dad remarked, although he may have bitten his tongue afterward.
“Dad, you know what I´ve been through,” I said, hoping Romanos would praise me as a wailing widow.
“What did you do when she talked to you like that, Marcell?” asked Domingo in a surprised tone.
“She never did.” Dad didn´t want to dwell on it, but the father of his future son-in-law investigated further.
“The people here may not be up to your parental authority.” He stood up and made him do the same. “I suggest you and Michael train for the wedding night and give her a good belting.”
Michael and I stopped eating. “Barbara did nothing…”
“She has done plenty of wrong. I think her hiney should be tanned with the very instrument traditionally used to remind ladies who is wearing the pants.”
Dad´s hands trembled. “I have never hit my daughters.”
Domingo grinned. “Mr. Pignon, I think a statement like that could be a basis for a charge of child neglect.”
“She wanted a sweet life with us. She should be taught of bitter parts as well,” Michael said.
And Dad needed to know the new normal.
“If my new family wants it, I will suffer for it.”
I stood up, pushed my plate into the middle of the table, and prostrated myself on the table.
“One of you, lift her skirt. She wouldn´t feel a thing.”
I heard Dad´s footsteps and then just felt him exposing my panties.
The sounds of the belt being unbuckled could no longer scare me. Suddenly, my stomach turned because of who was going to thrash me and how he must feel about it.
It stung only a little, but I overdid it with yelping to make it look like he was doing a better job.“Marcell, your little girl won’t learn anything like that. The belt is a pretty safe instrument. So feel free to put your manly strength into it.”
This time, I didn’t have to fake a scream. Unlike the first strokes, which only hit a small spot on my butt, thanks to Domingo, I felt leather across both cheeks, and the information that I would have a hard time sitting came into my head again. My bottom instinctively wriggled from side to side but, at the same time, began to absorb the pleasant warmth.
“Marcell, you don’t know the basic craft when it comes to punishing women and children. You´re not holding her at all. Besides, you left her panties on, so you don’t have to spare her.”
I heard new, heavier footsteps and the sound of a massive strip being pulled out of Domingo´s pants. I closed my eyes as his strong hand landed on my back.
“Step aside. I will show you what awaited my sons for disrespect.”
“OWWW, OWWW, OWWW, OWWWW!!!”
I would have assumed that spanking would no longer surprise me and that I would mostly appreciate it, but there is nothing worse than being inflicted with pain by someone who has experience and enjoys it. Domingo took breaks between the strokes, so I absorbed them slowly. His belt kept changing angles. It looked like he was drawing a picture on my ass when in fact, he was making sure he didn’t leave an unblemished part on it. About every fifth one, he aimed at my thighs without reducing the force of the blow in any way. The movement resembled a dance, during which I kept telling myself that the pain couldn’t possibly get any worse, but it always surprised me. My ass begged me to dodge, but I couldn´t because of Domingo’s hand, so I attained relief by screaming and crying. By the time Domingo finished, I was out of tears. It didn’t change my feeling that my ass was stuck in a fireplace.
“Don’t think you won’t have it on your wedding night anyway, miss,” said a satisfied Domingo. “Michael, you can get ready for it. And you’re the only one of us who can get Barbara’s panties down.”
The fathers stepped back, and Michael took their place. “Pretty red,” he commented as he examined my unprotected ass. “I´ve got to take a picture of this.”
His strokes were almost playful. He gave them to me in the middle of a speech, always to a small spot, but it was clear that he knew where it would hurt me the most.
“Today- WHACK- you begin life with your master –WHACK – and you will learn -WHACK- how a real household works -WHACK- so that it does not fall apart – WHACK- and you benefit from it-WHACK-for which you will have to pay!”
I was really squealing like a little girl.
The way three men passed my ass was not nearly as humiliating as having to kiss their hands.Michael was right, of course. I had to lie down on the sofa in the lounge and eat lunch from the side table. I had a new taste for it, probably reinforced by the still unnamed member of the Roman and Pignon clans.
Enzo would never beat me. And he certainly wouldn´t be a threat to our child either. In a way, the brotherly love was a rusty dagger in Michel´s festering insides.
“Am I breathing the cleaner air of our arranged marriage?”
Speak of the devil…
“Despite what your father I said, I think we´ll have a nicer wedding night if you let me stay as sensitive as I am now, and you won´t add any more strokes.” I didn´t even raise my head.
“Ms. Pignon, the only thing you will be sensitive to on our wedding night will be the exclusive bedclothes.”
“Are you gay?”
“When you said she was the dove with the golden heart, I wondered if I could cut her chest to see for myself.”
I looked to discover who he was talking to. I squeaked out happily because I glimpsed Ms. Clerence´s smile.
“Don´t move too much, Barbara.” She opened something in her hands and placed it next to my plate.
“I´ve obtained her and the baby oil,” Michael said.
I wolfed down the last of the camembert, and I must say that after applying the cooling layer to my bum, I felt pleasantly tanned again. But I needed more food. Mountains of food. And some information. “You said I had to go out. Where?”
Ms. Clerence stroked my cheek. “Most of the women had little to do after lunch. They will have to go back to skiing and slogging through the snow.” Luckily, Stacey will be there. “I can think of a worse ending to Christmas.”
Ms. Clerence laughed bitterly. “This won’t be the end of you, Barbara. I wish you a safe journey.”I was embarrassed that I had forgotten, and my cheeks suddenly had to be as red as an ass. “But you´re staying here…”
“Not just me. You can text your friend Zita if you want. She’ll pass it on to Louisa, and she’ll pass it on to me. You’re a lucky girl, Barbara.” She paused and spoke in another direction. “Make sure she is a lucky and happy girl.”
“And as always, I’ll have to find someone to make me a happy boy,” Michael said.
Ms. Clerence stroked my temple with her right hand, and I felt the tenderness of each finger.”Change your clothes! Get your skis and poles! Line up outside! If you freeze, it’s your problem! I’ve laid out a long route for you today!”
Stacey could kiss our asses. Zita and I had to help each other change. Me because of the pain, and she barely noticed the world around her, although she noticed a little when Larissa came into the crowded dressing room.
“We are going to help you,” I told Zita.
“She is going to help me,” Zita said, anger emitting from her.
She irritated me, but I looked outside for her. I saw her shoving and shouting something at Larissa, who then moved to the edge of the group. I ended at the front, still indifferent to Stacey´s shouting.”Your holidays are ending, so you must try harder to move your lazy bodies, which is the basis of survival. We don’t have any new snow, so…”
“There she is! The brunette, second from the left!” A quartet of heavily clad guards, men, in fact, burst into our group, quickly making their way towards Larissa. Double L, ready on skis, started forward. Then she approached them again in a slight curve and spat. The inmates gasped as she quickly skied away. The heavily clad men suddenly shouted and fidgeted, but they still drew their weapons and fired. Larissa’s calf buckled, but the brave spy changed direction and got into our country cottage. The skiers did not understand anything at all. Soon, they lost their formation.”Lesson is interrupted. All back to the Tower!” Stacey yelled.
While we were on our way, Zita, suddenly calmer and the only calm one in the group, pulled me by the arm and dragged me to the snowy beds where we were used to daffodils. “You know, I snitched on her.” Her voice cracked, but she looked proud of herself.
“You told Mayson who she is?”
“Arnolph, but yes. She whispered more and more quietly. “I told her I suspected a spy in our midst—and explained why it has to be her. I don’t have to tell you why.”
“But,” I stammered. “You had no proof!”
“The proof is our browser, stuck in her room… It’s free of fingerprints and genetic material and all browsing history, but after Larissa used her nanobots publicly, no one will doubt it. And I ask for some consideration in return.”
“She was helping us! She could have helped you, too!”
Zita frowned. She started to say something, but it sounded learned. “She wouldn’t help me, and she wasn’t interested. I had to be their absolute sweetheart, Barbara. Please, it’ll be a while before Stacey and Therese find out that the browser is gone. Don’t tell them, but I wanted you to know. And I wanted you to understand me.”
“Why do you want me to tell you it was right?” I quickened my pace to get inside the building. “You like to control people above all else.”
“I wanted to be sure!” Zita said. “I wouldn’t hurt you, Therese or Stacey. Or Jenine. We’re friends.”That stunned me. I heard honesty in her voice. “Then why didn’t you trust me?”
Zita sighed. “I had my interests and you had yours. I didn’t know what you were willing to do for me.”
I shook my head. She is aloof, and that makes her suspicious.
Will Larissa report any of us when she finds out about the browser? Probably not. She can’t jeopardize ongoing plans. I was still afraid of what she might say if they drugged her, and I was horrified at the thought of her dying during the interrogation.
What’s more, even if it´s a naive question, did they arrest her? We didn’t see anything. The skiers hadn’t even changed their clothes yet. They huddled in the corridor, allowing me and Zita to signal privately.
*I’m afraid that when Therese puts two and two together, she’ll forget a few commandments.*
*Larissa used Therese*, Zita objected. *I’m not ashamed to cut her out of Therese’s life. Jenine ran away. Maybe she can too.*
I covered Zita´s fingers with my palm before she could say anything else. *You have to apologize to her and not just that. You must try and replace her as a friend. Stacey won’t cuddle her much.*
*If she forgives me*, Zita added with an unreadable expression.
I explained to her the connection between me, herself, and Ms. Clerence that Singerton would link to. The conversation ended with friendly gestures without a cipher.
Stacey and warden Michelle shouted at us to change quickly, but we were slow anyway. I was thirsty for information, but we heard nothing about Larissa and her arrest or escape, and our media was mute. It couldn’t just be that Arnolph was sitting at the bedside of a sick baby boy, Mayson.
Michelle canceled most of the activities and said that unless we had something useful to do, we should go to our rooms. I was about to go there, but Zita intercepted me and said I had to shoot the last remakes for Shieldmaidens. I understood it completely differently, but it was hard for me to blame her. It hurt me so much, and when I looked into her saddened eyes, I thought that I would make her pain and mine worse. In our show, I gave my place to Louisa, who played the chaotic imp, while my character decided to guard a giant space goat for the rest of her life.
And so I spent nearly five hours. The wardens around me became more tight-lipped, perhaps because they couldn’t be rude.
“I want to eat already,” I dared to ask them, alone in the virtual classroom.
“Dinner has been postponed due to the special regime,” the warden said and gave me a package. “You’re going to eat with your in-laws. Just say goodbye to your roommates. Your father wants to see them.”
Something rattled on my package. It was the key to my chastity belt. And the package… It was my black shorts, yellow sweatshirt, and red underwear that I was wearing when they brought me here. None of it made sense. I liberated my sex again, and it was because of loveless marriage. I dressed as if I was the voracious virgin of my past while slowly coming to terms with the future of motherhood. My clothes fluttered, but Lola and Cassandra, and one of their colleagues escorted me to our door so as not to avoid attention.
Another warden stood there by my Dad´s side, her hand reaching for the door handle. My dad brushed his fingers along the doorframe.
“You can open.”
All three girls had their eyes on me. They looked broken beyond repair. I took a breath and walked towards them. After words handshake and soft kiss followed. “Thank you for your kindness, Therese. May you live with someone who will return it all to you.”
She kissed me first in this case.
“Stacey, I hope you will finish everything you started.”
“I will,” she replied.
“Zita, you can be a good friend, whether you realize it or not. Be nice to people and they will repay you.”
She nodded thoughtfully.
I turned my back on them, and my Dad never acknowledged them, but I vowed I would return to their lives. I will save them, collect them, or join them in the misery they will fall into.
We marched through the corridors. Once, they set six women free. It couldn´t compare with today. Sirens wailed, and wardens opened every door on our way. Inmates in the underwear stood at attention. I looked at them respectfully but never at their faces.They led us into the plainest room in the Tower, with a table and four chairs. Michael and Domingo were not sitting. I would say they were guarding something if I didn´t know better.
Michael held a sheet of paper in his hand. He rewarded my father with a deep bow and handed him the document. Dad thanked him and invited me to sit down. Next to the pen landed a page entitled: “Marriage Application for the Woman.” At the top were lines of Michael´s name, smelling of the fresh ink. With the pen, I took all the days I have lived here, and all of those, I will live as Michael´s wife. I signed the text I couldn´t afford to read, knowing very well I rendered that surname “Pignon” almost meaningless and forsaken.
I gave Michael the sheet. Domingo came and hugged us all while his son was kissing me.We traveled upwards, and without warning, I was exposed to the winter air over the roof terrace. We were supposed to rush, I think, eager for comfort.I was reluctant to take Michael´s hand. The bubble of air spoke not about freedom but of uncaring nature, a beautiful piece of land made ugly.
I saw that Romanos were leaving in a private jet, but there were also three military jets, blending with the blackness of the night.Good. At least I remember that we are at war.